The Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century released its report on Tuesday on its “recommendations on rightsizing New York State’s hospitals and nursing homes…(which includes) consolidation, closure, conversion, and restructuring of institutions, and reallocation of local and statewide resources”. Here is a link to the complete report.
Three hospitals in our area, identified as the “Southeast Cluster” in Western New York, (TLC Lakeshore Hospital in Irving, TLC Tri-County Hospital in Gowanda, and Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville) are subjected to recommendations in this report.
– Eliminate all medical/surgical beds of TLC Tri-County Hospital
- Reduce the license capacity at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital so that the facility functions with less than 25 licensed beds.
- Eliminate the 40 bed Residential Heal Care Facility (RHCF) license at TLC Lake Short Hospital.
- Submit a CON for the approval of 10 detoxification beds under the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) for Tri-County Hospital.
- Consolidate laboratory services at Tri-County Hospital.
- Emergency and outpatient primary care will continue to be provided at the Tri-County Hospital.
… the provider has advanced a plan that may not be optimum for the region as a whole. … an understanding needs to be reached with regard to the ongoing viability of Bertrand Chaffee Hospital. … Although implied, attention to the Seneca Nation of Indians and its health care needs should be included in any analysis of services in the southern tier. … To date there has been no mention of the needs of the Seneca Nation among the various potential providers.
I found no mention of recommendations for Olean General Hospital in the report. Reaction to Buffalo area closures/reorganizations is mixed:
Kaleida Health’s CEO says he does not accept the commission’s report.
The Catholic Health System believes they have already closed facilities and should not have to close St. Joseph Hospital, as called for by the commission.
In contrast ECMC’s CEO Mike Young sees potential with the plan.
… St. Joseph Hospital in Cheektowaga and Millard Fillmore Gates Circle in Buffalo.
The commission also says DeGraff Memorial should convert to a long term care facility, while Mount Saint Mary’s in Niagara Falls should merge with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
Also, Lockport Memorial could end up merging with Intercommunity Hospital in Newfane.
The commission also recommends closing the Williamsville Suburban Nursing Home.
At least one lawsuit has already been filed:
Governor Pataki and State Health Commissioner Antonia Novello are named as defendants in a law suit by the Catholic Health System seeking to stop the closure of St. Joseph Hospital. “It’s just wrong and people need to understand that, we’ve already paid our dues.” said Dennis McCarthy Catholic Health Systems.
So where does this report go from here?
Gov. George E. Pataki has until Dec. 5 to recommend the report’s findings to the Legislature, which has until the end of the year to reject or accept them. Lawmakers cannot pick and choose recommendations.
I find it highly unlikely that Gov. Pataki will reject the report; however, legislators can pass new legislation that would extend the statutory deadline.
…Governor Pataki negotiated with the federal government a waiver agreement that promises New York State an additional 1.5 billion dollars to help implement the commission’s recommendations.” Sandman said if the legislature were to reject the commission’s recommendations, then the state would forfeit that 1.5 billion dollars.
$1.5 billion is a pretty strong incentive. Any word from Governor-Elect Eliot Spitzer?
In a statement released Tuesday, Spitzer called the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century’s recommendation to close 9 hospitals and reconfigure 48 others “one step in the process.” He said it must be “considered as an important element of a broader plan to fundamentally restructure New York’s healthcare system.”
“As I have repeatedly stated, fixing our broken health care system will require hard decisions, sacrifice and leadership,” he said. “In the very near future, once I have reviewed the report, I will say whether as governor I would send this report to the Legislature.”
Would you like to voice your concerns?
The state Senate Health Committee will hold a public hearing on the hospital consolidation report. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, Albany. The Assembly Health Committee will hold regional hearings and accept comments. E-mail testimony to HealthHearing@ assembly.state.ny.us or mail to 822 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248. Comments should be received by Dec. 8.
And don’t forget, you can also contact Assemblyman Joe Giglio and Senator Cathy Young. Their contact information is listed on the right-hand side of this page.